Tennessee announces branding restructure

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Tennessee will call each of its teams the Volunteers, phasing out the Lady Volunteers nickname for all women's sports other than basketball starting next year.

In a university release, the school announced Monday it was making the change as part of a brand restructuring that coincides with its move from Adidas to Nike as its apparel provider. Athletic director Dave Hart said the change would take effect July 1, the same day the deal with Nike begins.

The release said women's basketball would be exempt from the move and would continue using the Lady Vols nickname ''because of the accomplishments and legacy of the championship program built by Coach Pat Summitt and her former players.'' Tennessee won eight national titles in women's basketball under Summitt, who stepped down as coach in 2012 but remains on staff as head coach emeritus.

Tennessee chancellor Jimmy Cheek said in a university statement that ''brand consistency across the university is critical.''

This move continues a transition that began as Tennessee consolidated its men's and women's athletic departments in 2012. Tennessee has adopted a ''One Tennessee'' slogan during the consolidation in an attempt to unite the men's and women's programs.

The Tennessee men's teams traditionally have called themselves the Volunteers and have utilized a solid orange ''Power T'' logo. The women's teams have used a unique version of the logo that featured the words ''Lady Volunteers'' in blue.

In the university release announcing the move, school officials said a study conducted by the office of communications and marketing in conjunction with industry leaders in higher education recommended ''the consolidation of logos and word marks in order for better consistency, with the Power T serving as the primary mark for campus and athletics.''

Hart said school officials also had conversations with head coaches and student-athletes before making the decision.

''I am very pleased that women's basketball will retain the Lady Vols logo,'' former Tennessee women's athletic director Joan Cronan said in the university release. ''It honors the legacy of the team and the greatest coach ever, Pat Summitt.''

During an interview preceding her retirement from the university this summer, Cronan had said she hoped the Lady Vols brand and logo would remain an integral part of the school's tradition because ''that logo stands for so much. People talk about logos. McDonald's wouldn't give up its arches.''

Cronan, who served as the Tennessee women's athletic director from 1983-2012, didn't immediately respond to a message seeking further comment beyond what was included in the university release.

Tennessee women's basketball coach Holly Warlick said in the release that ''One Tennessee has united all the athletic programs'' at the school, but she added that she was happy the basketball team would continue to be called the Lady Vols.

''The Lady Vol logo ... has long been the monogram of excellence and a tradition among our loyal basketball fans,'' Warlick said. ''This is a symbol that is recognized and linked with a superior standard of women's basketball worldwide. In the 38 years of Coach Summitt's storied career, she established a tradition unlike any other in women's basketball, and she did so under the banner of the Lady Vol logo.

''It is with deep respect for Coach Summitt and this great tradition that we will continue to wear the Lady Vol logo with great pride.''

Adam Waller of the Pat Summitt Foundation didn't immediately respond to a message seeking a statement from Summitt.

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